Following the models of New York, San Francisco and Long Beach, the Los Angeles City Council on Aug. 24 approved mini public park spaces in downtown, Highland Park and El Sereno.
The public spaces dubbed “parklets” are temporary or permanent structures in street parking spaces or red zones to extend the width of sidewalks into the street for public seating, gardens, bike parking or other uses.
The City Council voted 10-0 to approve construction of the four projects in the public right-of-way. The council also directed the Public Works, Planning and Transportation departments to coordinate plans for a citywide parklet pilot program similar to San Francisco’s “Pavement to Parks.”
Councilman Jose Huizar, who championed the pilot project along with Councilwoman Jan Perry, described the parklets as community-driven. The design, construction and maintenance of the parklets were funded by local businesses and private donations.
The parklets will extend 6 feet into the road and be between 20 and 38 feet long, surrounded by Caltrans-approved barriers. The spaces will range in cost from $5,000 to $50,000.
Huizar said the idea of parklets are counter to the way the city has planned public spaces in the past.
“For decades now, the city of Los Angeles’ idea was, `let’s get cars through. Let’s get them as quickly as possible. Let’s build as many public parking spaces as we can.’ But now we have to slow that down,” Huizar said.
“People want a sense of feeling like they belong to a community,” he said. “Why not shift that paradigm and look more for places where they can gather and get to know one another?”
The pilot project will take six months to complete and evaluate, officials said.
With approximately 91 million feet of curbs in the city, Huizar said he hopes parklets will dot the entire city over the next five years.
“We are, to be honest, a bit behind the ball,” Huizar said.
“Hopefully this is the first of many.”
Supporters, including downtown and Highland Park Neighborhood Council board members said the parklets will enhance pedestrian traffic that will support local businesses while increasing public safety.
“Nothing is a better police force than the neighborhood out using the street every day,” said Steve Rasmussen Cancian, a landscape architect with Living Streets L.A. who helped advise the city on the pilot project.
Cancian told the council that restaurants in Long Beach saw a 20 percent increase in business after parklets were opened.
The parklets in Highland Park and El Sereno — on York Boulevard near 51st Street and Huntington Drive near Rosemead Avenue — will be open by Thanksgiving, Cancian said.
The two downtown parklets will be funded by a $75,000 grant from from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation administered by UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Complete Streets Initiative. The grant requires those parklets to be built by the end of the year and to include two pieces of exercise equipment as part of the foundation’s effort to prevent diabetes.
The council also greenlighted parklets in the districts of Councilmen Richard Alarcon and Joe Buscaino. Buscaino said San Pedro is looking to put one on Center Street between Sixth and Seventh streets.
As part of the demonstration project, the council ordered staff from the relevant city departments to develop a permit process for future parklets.
Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, was acquitted by a Contra Costa County jury last Friday of a drunken driving charge, and he said he was anxious to get back to work with the Legislature after a two-week trial.
Hernandez had been charged with driving under the influence and driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or greater. Jurors found Hernandez not guilty of the DUI count, and could not reach a verdict on the blood-alcohol charge.
The charges stemmed from a March 27 traffic stop in Concord in Northern California. Police said Hernandez’s state-issued car had been swerving and that the lawmaker failed a field sobriety test. Officials said a lab test determined his blood-alcohol level was 0.08.
Hernandez challenged the accuracy of the test, insisting he had only had
two glasses of wine in the five hours before his arrest.
Saturday is the last day of the Summer Night Lights (SNL) Program, closing day celebrations are expected at participating sites including: recreation centers participating in the programming include Highland Park Recreation Center, Glassell Park Recreation Center, Cypress Park Recreation Center, and Montecito Heights Recreation Center. For more information, contact your local recreation center.
Starting Sept. 1, people who use the paper EZ transit pass — the monthly pass good for travel on 25 different public transit carriers throughout Los Angeles County — can transition to the reusable and reloadable TAP card.
TAP cards make it easier to travel without transfers, renew passes each month and replace r cards, should they be lost of stolen, according to a Metro news release. The blue TAP card is for regular riders; the orange Reduced TAP ID card is for senior and/or disabled riders, both can be electronically reloaded. A stamp with the month, year and zone designation will be affixed to the front of each card so that the card can be visually inspected on non-TAP systems.
For a limited time, the new reusable TAP cards will be free with the purchase of an EZ transit pass. Applications can be downloaded from the web at metro.net/riding/fares/senior, and are available at all Metro Customer Centers and pass sales outlets.
For more information on the EZ pass transition to TAP go to: http://www.metro.net/riding/fares/get-ez-transit-pass/
The elections for Los Angeles’ neighborhood councils, which provide guidance to the city on community issues, are coming up.
The candidate filing deadline is Sept. 13; the election will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13.
Some of the local Neighborhood Councils include the Boyle Heights NC, LA-32 NC, Lincoln Heights NC, Eagle Rock NC, Historic Highland Park NC, and Glassell Park NC.
Candidate applications can be obtained by emailing the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) at email@example.com; for more information call DONE at (213) 978-1551.
Reacting to allegations that property tax agents slashed assessments for owners who gave money to John Noguez’s successful 2010 campaign for county assessor, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday discussed ways to limit and track campaign contributions from tax agents.
A lawyer with the County Counsel’s office put the brakes on discussion about banning tax agents from contributing to assessor campaigns all together, saying an outright ban—recommended by Supervisor Don Knabe—might be unconstitutional and violate free speech laws.
Knabe said county law already prohibits lobbyists from giving money to people running for public office.
Because of constitutional concerns in restricting political donations, John Krattil of the Office of the County Counsel suggested the board instead wait to see if Assembly Bill 404, which would mandate that counties ban contributions from tax agents to candidates for county office, passes.
The board voted 4-0 to move forward on all fronts: to seek an amendment to the state bill, direct lawyers to draft a local ban and to upgrade campaign contribution databases.
Today, Thursday, August 30
4:30-6:30pm—Hate Crime Workshops for Youth at El Centro del Pueblo. Learn about the causes of hate crimes. Geared for youth in grades 6-12. Dinner is provided. El Centro is located at 1157 Lemoyne St. LL.A. RSVP to Lidia Martinez at (213) 483-6335 ext. 104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
5-6pm—Crochet for Caring and Sharing at the Chet Holifield Library in Montebello. Enjoy casual conversation as you complete your own crochet project. Bring your hook, yarn, and get ready to crochet flowers and hair accessories! No experience ok. Some materials will be made available courtesy of the Friends of the Montebello Libraries. The library is located at 1060 S. Greenwood Ave. Montebello, 90640. For more information, call (323) 728-0421.
6-8pm—ELACC ‘Legalize LA Street Vendors’ Town Hall Meeting. The second in a series of meetings aimed at creating a policy to legalize street food vendors in LA. Location: Central American Resources Center 2845 W. 7th Street. For more information, call (323) 604-1975.
Friday, August 31
11am-5pm—2nd Annual Edges and Curves Art Show. Visit the City Market of Los Angeles for the second art show dedicated to local female artists over 40. Event is free and open to everyone. Market located at 1057 S. San Pedro St. Ste 201. For more information visit www.thehaggussociety.org.
Saturday, September 1
6pm-8pm—Artwalk & Concert at the East L.A. Civic Center. ArtWalk will feature the work of 40 artists and local artisans. Enjoy Brazilian Jazz sounds of Louie Cruz Beltran. The East LA Civic Center is located at 4801 E. Third St., LA 90022. For more information, contact Los Angeles County Parks at (323) 260-2360, or visit http://lacountyparks.org. Go Metro, 800-COMMUTE, www.metro.net
Monday, September 3
6am-1pm—231st Anniversary of the Founding of Los Angeles Celebration. Enjoy historic re-enactments of Los Pobladores, artisan demonstrations, exhibits, entertainment, and plenty of birthday cake to go around. El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is located at 125 Paseo de la Plaza. For more information call (213) 485-6855.
11am-6:30pm—Labor Day Splash at Bell Gardens Ford Park Pool. Celebrate Labor Day poolside with live entertainment, carnival games, food vendors, a giant water slide and more! First 20 guests receive a prize. Tickets are $5/$15 for a family of four. The pool is located at 8000 Park Lane. For more information call (562) 806-7650.
Tuesday, September 4
4-5pm—Paper Crafting for Kids at the Anthony Quinn Library in East LA. Decorate a handmade card for someone special, create a scrapbook page or just decorate your school binder. The library is located 3965 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. LA 90063. For more information, call (323) 264-7715.
Wednesday, September 5
6-8pm—LA County Library Celebrates Centennial at East Los Angeles Library. Bring the whole family to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the library with ballet folklorico, book giveaways and more. The library is located at 4837 E. 3rd St. For more information call (323) 264-0155.
6:30pm—Drawing Club workshop with Adriana Yugovich. Drawing materials provided for this creative eye-opening workshop complete with image making games and more. $12 fee at the door. Workshop located at 5002 York Blvd. For more information call (323) 259-2490.
Opening Night of “André and Dorine” at Los Angeles Theatre: Sept. 7, 8pm. Tickets are $30; student/seniors $20. For reservations or more information, call (866) 811-4111 or visit http://www.thelatc.org.
Monterey Park Community Garage Sale at Barnes Park on Sept. 8, 7am-1pm. Clear out your garages, closets, and storage spaces and come sell your items. Sellers must provide their own tables and chairs. Free spaces to Monterey Park residents; $10 non-residents. First-come, first-choice, no reservations required. Park is located at 350 S. McPherrin Ave. For more information, call (626-307-1388.
Homeowner Bill of Rights Town Hall Meeting on September 12 at the Whittier Community Center from 6-8pm, hosted by Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon. Get up-to-date information on new legislation that could save homes from foreclosure. For more information and to RSVP, call (562) 692-5858.
Housing Rights Workshop on September 18 at Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library from 5-7pm. The Housing Rights Center and the City of Monterey Park will present information and resources on housing discrimination and landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities. Library located at 318 S. Ramona Ave. For more information call (800)-477-5977 or visit www.housingrightscenter.org.
The deadline to apply for a paid internship at White Memorial Medical Center is 5pm Sept. 7. Applicants must be a resident of East Los Angeles, 16-25 years old, authorized to work in the U.S., and must be able to work one of the following shifts: Monday-Wednesday 9am-2pm or 2p-6pm , or Thursday-Saturday same times. Interested applicants must email Piedad Morales at MoraleP2@ah.org before deadline to be eligible. Space is limited.
This year’s celebration of Labor Day isn’t like those of the past.
During the past thirty years, not only have we lost millions of jobs to foreign workers, we have also witnessed the shrinking of our middle class, and loss of their American dream.
As employers cut wages and benefits in order to please shareholders demanding ever-greater profits and dividend payouts, we cannot help but wonder where their shortsighted view will take us as a country.
One has to wonder what many corporations would do if they could no longer find workers? Who would produce the goods workers make, and who would be able to afford to buy what is produced?
While many claim to be interested in bolstering the plight of working men and women in this country, in rescuing the middle class, the reality is that it is little more than lip service. Sadly, in many circles, there is a growing contempt for the American worker, and a lack of caring for their plight.
Those who are doing well can see no reason why others aren’t doing the same; they blame and mock them for not achieving as they have.
This is not the America we used to be.
So this Labor Day, we hope you will take a moment to stop and think about where we will be as a country if we continue our disinvestment in our human capital, and keep pushing down our working class.
How about taking a moment this Labor Day to reflect about those Americans who earn the least for their labor?
These Americans — workers paid the federal minimum wage — are now making $7.25 an hour. On paper, they’re making the same wage they made in July 2009, the last time we saw the minimum wage change. In reality, minimum-wage workers are making less today than they made last year because inflation has eaten away at their incomes.
Minimum-wage workers here in 2012 simply can’t purchase as much with their paychecks as they could in 2011. And if you go back a few decades, today’s raw deal gets even rawer. Back in 1968, minimum-wage workers took home $1.60 an hour. To make that much today, adjusting for inflation, a minimum-wage worker would have to earn $10.55 an hour.
In effect, minimum-wage workers today are taking home almost $7,000 less a year than minimum-wage workers took home in 1968.
Figures like these don’t particularly upset many of our nation’s most powerful, in either industry or government. We live in tough times, the argument goes. The small businesses that drive our economy simply can’t afford to pay their help any more than they already do.
But the vast majority of our nation’s minimum-wage workers don’t labor for Main Street mom-and-pops. They’re employed by businesses that no average American would ever call small. Two-thirds of America’s low-wage workers, the National Employment Law Project documented in July, work for companies that have at least 100 employees.
The 50 largest of these low-wage employers are doing just fine these days. Over the last five years, these 50 corporations — outfits that range from Walmart to Office Depot — have together returned $175 billion to shareholders in dividends or share buybacks.
And the CEOs at these companies last year averaged $9.4 million in personal compensation. A minimum-wage worker would have to labor 623 years to bring in that much money.
So what can we do to bring some semblance of fairness back into our workplaces? For starters, we obviously need to raise the minimum wage. But some close observers of America’s economic landscape believe we need to do more. A great deal more.
Count Larry Hanley among these more ambitious change agents. Hanley, the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, sits on the AFL-CIO’s executive council, the labor movement’s top decision-making body. He recently called for a “maximum wage,” a cap on the compensation that goes to the corporate execs who profit so hugely off low-wage labor.
Hanley wants to see this maximum defined as a multiple of the pay that goes to a company’s lowest-paid worker. If we had a “maximum wage” set at 100 times that lowest wage, the CEO of a company that paid some workers as low as $16,000 a year could waltz off with annual pay no higher than $1.6 million.
During World War II, labor leader Hanley points out, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for what amounted to a maximum wage. FDR urged Congress to place a 100-percent tax on income over $25,000 a year, a sum that would now equal, after inflation, just over $350,000.
Congress didn’t go along. But FDR did end up winning a 94-percent top tax rate on income over $200,000, a move that would help usher in the greatest years of middle-class prosperity the United States has ever known.
Throughout World War II, FDR enjoyed broad support from within the labor movement — and the general public — for his pay cap notion. Now’s the time, Hanley believes, to put that notion back on the political table. We need, he says, “to start a national discussion about creating a maximum wage law.”
Hanley may just have started that discussion.
OtherWords.org columnist Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the Institute on Policy Studies weekly newsletter on excess and inequality.